Turkish Film Festival
October 11, 12 & 13
Now in its seventh year, the Houston Turkish Film Festival has joined the international itinerary of festivals around the world celebrating the achievements of Turkey’s film industry. Among this year’s highlights are Turkish Ice Cream (Türk işi dondurma), a historical drama set in 1915 Australia; The Pigeon (Güvercin), a coming-of-age film set in Adana; and Sibel, set in the Black Sea region, about a young woman who uses an ancestral whistled language to communicate.
Film Festival Pricing
$10 MFAH members, students with ID, and seniors (65+) receive a $2 discount.
Generous funding is provided by the American Turkish Association of Houston and Catherine and Cenk Ozdogan.
Special thanks to the Consulate General of Turkey in Houston.
Special thanks for a donation from Turkish Airlines, Star Alliance partner with United Airlines, the Official Airline of the MFAH.
Past Events in This Series
Neslihan is the perfect cook. She fantasizes about being a TV chef—until she becomes the prime suspect in a series of mysterious murders.
A shy young man feels more comfortable caring for his pet pigeons than he does at work or socializing with others in his community.
When World War I begins, two Turks living in Australia face obstacles trying to return home.
During the Korean War, an orphan is adopted by a Turkish soldier. Based on a true story.
Guillaume Giovanetti and Çağla Zencirci
A village outsider who speaks an ancestral whistled language risks alienating herself even more after encountering a “visitor” in the forest.
In person to introduce the screening: writer/director Fikret Reyhan & producer Nizamettin Reyhan
This compelling drama follows a young man from a farming family who sees a different future for himself.
A small-town mayor is overprotective of his three beautiful daughters in this warm-hearted crowd pleaser.
Estranged siblings are called to their father’s deathbed in this dark comedy. Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Merve Bozcu and Su Baloglu
In person to introduce the screening: filmmakers Su Baloglu & Merve Bozcu
This documentary—presented in its U.S. premiere—explores the challenges faced by female filmmakers in Turkey today. The audience is invited to a reception in the galleries following the post-film discussion!
In a new drama based on a true story, an 18-year-old searches for the truth about his family—and discovers a dark past he wasn’t prepared to find. For mature audiences.
This documentary explores the culinary delights of ancient Turkey as the Roca Brothers tour the country, diving into the rich, diverse culinary cultures of one of the world’s major crossroads.
In this acclaimed debut feature from filmmaker Ümit Köreken, a Turkish boy puts off his dream of buying a bicycle to help a fellow student.
Unsafe working conditions for a group of construction workers in Istanbul affect each in different ways in filmmaker Kivanç Sezer's debut feature.
Children are not allowed to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, but young Adem, who gets a job selling soda on his summer vacation, breaks tradition in this charming comedy/drama.
Ali Atay, a TV and movie star in Turkey, takes a turn at directing this feature film, a comedy about two half-brothers who meet for the first time when summoned to their father’s deathbed.
This charming and colorful new documentary offers a unique tour of the vibrant city of Istanbul from the perspective of its beloved felines and the humans who care for them.
Introduced by Mr. Ferhat Alkan, Consul General of Turkey and Mr. Takeshi Sugiura, Vice Consul, Consulate General of Japan in Houston This moving and dramatic historical epic is based on events that happened a century apart, leading to two humanitarian initiatives that have indelibly linked Turkey and Japan.
This Turkish film has been thrilling horror fans at festivals around the world over the past year. A squad of unsuspecting police officers working the night shift is called to a seemingly abandoned building, only to find themselves in the midst of a shocking ritual celebration of black magic.
This gripping character study follows six men confined to a ship anchored at port for 120 days. The men suffer hunger, thirst, and isolation—all leading to a growing paranoia. As the men argue and struggle against the rules, the ship becomes a hunting ground.
Director Kaan Müjdeci is in attendance and joins a Q&A after the screening. Set in an Anatolian village in Eastern Turkey, Sivas is a coming-of-age story about 11-year-old Aslan and Sivas, a weathered fighting dog. They develop a strong bond after the boy rescues the wounded animal.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
With the drama Winter Sleep, director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) earned Turkey its second Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) is a landlord and hotelier in a remote mountain region of Anatolia. Resting on the laurels of his former acting career, he spends time writing a column for the local newspaper, chatting with the foreign guests in the hotel, and procrastinating on plans to write a book about the history of Turkish[…]
A thoroughly researched oral history spiced with a fine selection of archival performances, Batu Aykol’s documentary Jazz in Turkey is both a chronological history of jazz in his homeland and an exploration of the impact of jazz music there. Compiled from more than 50 interviews, the film considers the evolution of jazz and its musicians in the context of Turkish history. The engaging result is the country’s first cinematic investigation of this topic by revealing that traditional Turkish music shares[…]
Bahadir, a successful director of folkloric films, encounters personal and professional obstacles toward his goal of achieving cinematic brilliance in the style of his idol, the great cineaste Andrei Tarkovsky.
U.S. premiere! Q&A by director Tunç Şahin follows the screening Ulas (Sarp Apak), a music-loving 13-year-old in 1980s Istanbul, is in love with Emir (Özge Özpirinççi). When he prepares to give Emir a mix tape of songs on her birthday, Ulas realizes she has a boyfriend. Angry and dejected, Ulas spends the next 10 years working as a journalist, waiting for his chance to become a music critic. Eventually, Ulas and Emir run into each other again and spend a[…]
Q&A by director Çagan Irmak follows the screening Hatice, a singer who was a huge pop star in Turkey, returns to her childhood home where her older sister, Hanife, still lives. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Hatice reaches out to a sister who still holds deep resentments from their youth. The story of their lives unfolds through flashbacks tracing Hatice’s rebellious past, in which she flees her family to seek fame and fortune in the music world. The sisters' reunion reveals the deep,[…]
Described as a modern take on Little Red Riding Hood, this film focuses on Jîn, a Kurdish teenager who relies on her survival instincts when she flees to the forest, intent on reuniting with her family. She escapes armed military men and creates a space for herself in the dark and forbidding wilderness, where she courageously battles hunger, befriends animals, and dodges bullets. “Her mettle shines through in her wary but caregiving encounter with an injured Turkish soldier. All in all,[…]
The legendary Turkish actor Tuncel Kurtiz, who died in 2013, stars in this quirky, comedic look at the ties that bind a family together. Widow and retired colonel Yildirim raises his children with such authoritarian rule that all three have become estranged from their father and each other. Years later, the adult children are forced to come together after Yildirim suffers an accident. Everyone hides something from the others as hilarious misadventures occur.
A riveting lead performance anchors this poignant coming-of-age film about a young woman trying to move beyond the limitations of her mundane rural life. Zehra is employed at a 24-hour restaurant between Ankara and Istanbul where she works with Olgun, who is smitten with her and dreams of appearing on a television game show. Meanwhile, Zehra meets an older truck driver who seems to offer her an escape and some stability. This fifth feature by one of Turkey’s leading contemporary[…]
Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun
Subtle humor and a strong ensemble cast highlight this bittersweet tale of a middle-aged nightclub singer and his protégé who relocate from Istanbul to a small regional city, seeking better opportunities.Yavuz and Nese end up in a nightclub in off-the-beaten-path Yozgat, where the owner wants to revamp his establishment. Nese’s presence reminds Yavuz that a woman’s touch is what is missing from his life, but Nese develops a friendship with a local barber that threatens Yavuz’s stability.
Last year's Houston Turkish Film Festival featured Onur Ünlü’s droll The Extremely Sad Tale of Celal Tan and His Family. Ünlü continues to win acclaim as one of Turkey’s most innovative directors. His new film, which takes its title from a Shakespeare sonnet, is definitely for more adventurous film lovers! A mysterious modern day fable that is set in a small town in Anatolia, where anxious Cemal attempts suicide in a barbershop. Anxieties are prevalent in the village, where there[…]
The opening night selection is the highly acclaimed period film about love, life, and art and was Turkey’s candidate for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Academy Award. This lyrical drama centers on the lives of two poets, whose literary ambitions are set against the Black Sea coastal town of Zonguldak during the turbulent wartime atmosphere in 1941. Their lives become intertwined as both pursue love while contending with dealing with illness. Gokhan Tiryaki’s magnificent wide-screen visuals and an evocative and rousing[…]
Ömer Faruk Sorak
The second-highest grossing Turkish film of 2011, Love Likes Coincidences is a full-throttle romance in the grand tradition of An Affair to Remember and And Now, My Love. Aspiring actress Deniz (Bilgin) attends an Istanbul exhibition curated by successful photographer Ozgür and recognizes herself as a child in one of the photos. The pair discovers that their destinies have been linked since the time they were born: on the same day, at the same hospital in Ankara. They pursue a romance in[…]
Documentary filmmaker Pelin Esmer makes her feature debut with Watchtower, a compelling character study of two people who are drawn to each other while seeking refuge from their private demons. Nihat (Olgun Simsek) has taken a position as a fire warden in a remote tower far out in the wilderness. Seher (Nilay Erdonmez) lives in a makeshift room at a rural bus station where she works as a coach hostess. Destined to come to a crossroads, they go about their solitary[…]
German-Turkish auteur Akin (Head-On; The Edge of Heaven), one of the most successful practitioners of transnational cinema, brings his considerable storytelling skills to this documentary account of environmental devastation inflicted on the once-lovely seaside town of Çamburnu. The issue is personal to Akin, whose father’s family hails from the town which in 2007 became the site of a massive garbage landfill that polluted the soil, turned water black, filled the air with an overpowering stench, and triggered a general exodus[…]
Don’t be fooled by the title! Part comedy and part political satire, The Extremely Tragic Story of Celal Tan and His Family concerns a series of unfortunate events that befall Celal Tan, a widowed, well-respected law professor who lives in a provincial city and has two children. He marries a much younger university student, but on the eve of a surprise 65th birthday party his family has organized, everything spins out of control. The film won awards for best film and best[…]
Enjoy a musical voyage among the exotic places and people of Anatolia, host of ancient civilizations, empires, and mythologies over 10 millennia. The result of 350 hours of footage over 8 years, Lost Songs of Anatolia may be the first example of an experimental musical-documentary film. The cultural riches of Anatolia are sung in authentic performances recorded live on location. General admission is $10. MFAH members, senior adults, and students with ID receive a $2 discount.
Kenan (Serkan Ercan) is a middle-aged toll booth attendant working at one of Turkey’s busiest highways. Isolated and lonely, he goes from the routine of his job to a home life consumed by caring for his demanding, elderly father. Increasingly preoccupied by memories of a happier time, he has a confrontation with his boss that leads to reassignment to a remote tollbooth in the middle of a poppy field. Among the occasional nomads who pass by is a beautiful woman[…]
In person: actor Tamer Karadağlı The psychological thriller Shattered Soul is an absorbing murder mystery. Beyza’s (Demet Evgar) normal life is thrown off balance with strange, occasional memory blackouts. Meanwhile, a series of murders prompts the entire city of Istanbul to suspect a serial killer. The Police Lieutenant Fatih (Tamar Karadagli) investigates the gruesome murders with his new expert partner, Beyza’s husband Doruk (Levent Uzumcu), a psychiatrist. As the police follow the trail of the murderer, it becomes clear that[…]